After two years as number 2 of the party, Rui Rio assumed the presidency of the PSD Social Democratic party at the beginning of 2018 and with it, the leadership of the opposition to the socialist government of António Costa.
“The government will have a firm opposition in the new leadership of the Social Democratic Party, but never demagogic or populist.”
Known among his voters most notably for holding the Porto city council for three terms over 11 years, Rio first came to national popularity in 2019, when he faced Costa in legislative elections. It finished second, losing the Social Democratic Party seats in Parliament.
Now it is the second Portuguese political force and the distance with the Socialist Party (PS) has shortened
A few months later he would cease to be leader of the opposition by requesting that the fortnightly debates with the government in the National Assembly of the Republic end.
Many had predicted Rio’s defeat
His performance at the head of the party would be scrutinized again in 2021, when local elections were held in Portugal.
The main candidates of the party resigned their positions.
The unexpected victory of former European Commissioner Carlos Moedas put an end to 14 years of socialist government in Lisbon, mitigating the announced electoral disaster of the PSD.
The result in the Portuguese capital did not stop Paulo Rangel from challenging the nation’s leadership, with legislative elections just around the corner.
Rio won the primaries, reinforcing his leadership in the party, and launching the national election campaign.
The conservative PSD now enters the legislative elections as the main opposition party.
Rui Rio wants to stay in the center
“We are a reformist party, so we are not going to make any revolution and we are not going to destroy what others have done.”
As “it is likely that there will not be an absolute majority”, Riu asks the parties to “show maturity and be available for serious dialogue” and insists that the winner must be available to govern and the loser to dialogue.
The possibility of a coalition government with the extreme right has broken, however, the promises that there will be no room for rupture. A scenario that raises the closeness between his speeches and the need to erase the left of parliament but that Rio discards, who wants to stay in the center.